|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: 10tacle Studios / Conspiracy Entertainment||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Sproing||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 6, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Fame is the currency in Panzer Tactics, and it's earned by capturing enemy towns and fortifications. You'll be able to recruit and deploy new units as your fame increases. Completing special objectives also earns you a fame bonus to spend on beefing up your army. As you dig deeper into the different campaigns, you'll encounter new upgraded units to add your forces. There's a wide assortment of WWII infantry, tanks, planes, and ships to choose from. Eventually, you'll also be able to assign special officers to your ranks which will increase the firepower of their assigned unit and boost other friendly units in the nearby vicinity.
The game's strong graphical presentation does a great job of conveying a complete WWII vibe through-and-through. While that may sound like a no-brainer for any WWII title, Panzer Tactics' developers clearly went the extra mile to ensure the style is consistent across the board and pervasive in every area of the game. From the visually detailed data menus and map screens right down to animated combat screens and character portraits, the military polish and little extra details are a nice touch. The top screens pack in a ton of information about units and terrain as well. That said, the actual gameplay visuals never really go above and beyond the call of duty. The battlefield terrain looks good, and there are some neat effects like moving cloud formations, but the hexagon grid system leaves much to be desired. Turning the grid off makes the map a little prettier, yet it's sort of necessary to properly gauge distances when deploying units. On the other hand, if you've ever played any tabletop war strategy games the grid may be a welcome source of nostalgia.
The unit sprites are quite small on the battlefield, and it can be hard at times to tell similar unit types apart from one another without double checking the stat info. Unfortunately, they're not particularly animated on the map until you actually attack or are assaulted by the enemy. The battle animations are interesting; tanks thunder forward, opposing lines of soldiers pick each other off with small arms fire, bombers unleash their payload as they sweep across the screen, and battleships rain concussive death from afar. Still, these sequences are short, and many players may just skip them altogether to get on with the war.
With 30 lengthy missions, which can each take anywhere between 30 minutes to several hours to complete, the single-player experience in Panzer Tactics is extremely thorough and long-lasting. The multi-player function extends this by offering several different ways to play against human opponents. Hot Seat is always a welcome addition to turn-based strategy titles since it allows you to pass a single DS back and forth with a friend to massacre one another seamlessly. The only snag in this instance is it may take some time for your human adversary to learn the ropes before offering a challenge worthy of your skills. Local multi-card play is also a good way to go as you can simply set the match parameters and have your opponent choose to join. Online play is a bit trickier as it requires you to wait until another player comes along with the exact same settings, although you can choose to play random battles with greater ease.
Panzer Tactics offer a great turn-based military combat alternative to the popular Advance Wars series. It's light years from having Dual Strike beat, but some players will surely appreciate - and perhaps even prefer - the more serious tone and realism of the historical battles in Panzer Tactics. Get past the tutorials and survive the first stretch of the game, and you'll soon learn how deep and enthralling handheld war can be. Just don't forget to come up for air.
CCC Freelance Writer